St. Ed’s varsity swim teams fared about as expected at the district meet by qualifying for six events at the regional tournament in Orlando last weekend. The boys team placed fifth and the girls seventh at districts.
Ultimately, however, the Pirates were represented by just four swimmers scheduled in two events each at regionals. Coleman Kramer and Tomas Botero raced in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle for the boys while Alexandra Stern did the same as the lone girl making the trip. Spencer Greaves was featured in the 100 breast and 50 free. The boys and girls 200 free relay teams qualified but were scratched.
Stern, 11, is just a sixth-grader but she swims on a club team and is someone to watch in the future. Kramer, Botero, Greaves and Allan Ross have plenty of high-level competitive swimming experience and they were in a training regimen that anticipated at the very least district and possibly regional success.
Ross had a leg on the 200 free relay team that qualified for regionals, but as a highly accomplished runner he opted to participate in the district cross country race scheduled for the same day as the regional swim contest.
“We are preparing Kramer for the state meet,” head coach Stephen Fenning explained. “That is based on his times. When you look at the field you can see that we didn’t need to rest, taper or shave him (for districts or regionals). When you do that you are committing to that meet and nothing beyond. He has qualified for the Junior Nationals at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in December and that is a biggie for him. The regional and state meets are steppingstones for that. He is already committed to the University of South Carolina.
“Botero and Kramer both went to the Futures Championships in Nashville this summer. We prepared Botero and Greaves for the regionals. Stern is a young girl who is a very serious club swimmer.”
This was a diverse team with extremes in terms of age and experience. Six of seven girls on the roster and seven of nine boys competed at the district tournament. Kramer, Greaves, Ross and girls captain Mary Cate Stiles are seniors. Botero, a junior, and Stern are on tap to be the headliners next year.
“Most of the other girls and boys are seasonal swimmers,” Fenning said. “They are young and gaining experience by swimming competitively only during the high school season. What you hope for is that they get better at the skills we work on every day.
“If they perform those skills correctly they can reduce their times at a given distance. Then you hope they might get excited enough to the point where they want to stick around and swim the rest of the year. That’s the goal with the newer, younger swimmers.
“If you want to compete at the state level for a possible championship, you need to train in the water year-round.”
The start of the season did not go swimmingly, so to speak. Fenning said, “We dealt with a lot of adversity. Four to five weeks of training was lost and we had to do some juggling. In August the chilling system for the pool wasn’t working and the water temperature was 95 degrees. You can’t really train properly or sustain any heart rate in that type of water. Then we had the hurricane. So we just did what we could. We finally got a break after the hurricane with some cooler water.”
The state championship races are scheduled for Sailfish Splash Water Park Aquatic Center in Stuart on Saturday. The water is expected to be just the right temperature.